Avoiding the Superstar Syndrome in your Business

Don’t we all love superstars? Don’t we all want to be superstars? We love the glitz, glamour, influence, and aura they carry with them right? We see them in sports, music, movies, politics, business, etc.

They are the go-to guys…everyone wants to hang around them, what they wear becomes the latest fashion trend, their opinions on issues is sacrosanct, they are the role models and mentors everyone wants.

According to Tim O’Reilly “Success in today’s world, whether of sports or business, requires assembling a team of people who can work together to achieve something extraordinary. And yes, to achieve something extraordinary, it helps that some of those people be superstars. But here’s another lesson from sports, the best players “make their teammates better.” Selfish superstars rarely win”.

In other words, selfish superstars exhibit the Superstar syndrome we can infer right?

Breakthroughbasketball.com gives a fitting definition to this syndrome this way, “The Super Star Syndrome is when a youth player knows s/he is good at basketball. S/he hears how good they are from parents, coaches, fans and even the referees at times. Any player can experience this and it doesn’t start overnight. It starts the first time s/he receives better treatment than the remainder of the athletes on your team.”

In essence, this superstar is the Maverick Big Dog who calls the shots and literally bulldozes people out of his or her way to achieve the goal. And ‘nothing wrong yeah’? They drive the organization forward with their sheer grit and willpower and hardly have time for excuses or divergent opinions. Any attempt to change or alter the status quo is met with a fierce growl and a nasty fight. And if they lose that battle…the war is far from over. That Superstar or the Maverick Big Dog can be a two-edged sword in any workplace and can be disastrous in the long run if allowed to run free.

Are you suffering from the syndrome and how do you manage it? How do you avoid it in your business entirely?

Being the Maverick Big Dog is not a bad thing in its entirety, the go-to guy that people want to hang around and run to for counsel all the time. Organizations need them, their sheer grit and presence can be a major boost to sales and revenue in any organization. There is an old adage which says, “A tree does not make a forest”. And if that is the case, superstars do not exist in a vacuum. Who exists in a vacuum anyway??

Let’s take a look at Soccer and the rivalry between the fans of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo. Both players are superstars in their own rights and command a great following based on their skills and contribution to the game. But ask yourself the question, do they play alone on the field? Both are strikers in their playing positions but they require attackers, defensive midfielders, defenders and the goalkeeper to supply them the ball and play them into a strategic position to strike a goal at the opposing team right? And ohh one more mix is required in that play, the Coach and his staff to provide them guidance and instructions on the field of play…Yes?

Let’s take a look at the animal kingdom. The Lion is regarded as the king of the jungle right? What gives it that right to be king of the jungle and not the Tiger, who carries his own weight or the Leopard as well? When the lion is on a hunt, it does not go with the superstar syndrome the way the Tiger and other big cat does. The Lion implements an attacking strategy that involves every lioness in the pride with each knowing the role they would play and they play according to that script. If it’s a big hunt like the buffalo, the honcho Lion, the superstar himself knows when to come into the hunt to finish the kill. And there is no hunt he’s involved in that fails…failure rate I think is very minimal. But the point is, Teamwork, Strategy, and positioning played a big role in the kill and everyone wins.

So let’s apply this to our business. Be it, SME, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation what have you…we are only as strong as the weakest link in our midst. Henry Ford captured it correctly when he said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success”. Take a look at our body system, will the brain claim that it’s the superstar because the thinking faculty resides with him? Or would the tongue because he tastes? Or the eyes because it sees? Or the heart because it pumps blood? Every part of the body plays a crucial role and are all superstars in their own right and in concert with every other part of the body. Let’s do an experiment…are we ready?

Slam the door on your finger…yes who feels the pain? The finger alone or the whole body? The whole system called Man or Woman reacts in shock at that pain…excruciating pain. The brain recoils, the mouth, nose grimace in pain, the eyes well up tears, the hand…the whole arm folds in clutching each other and the legs try to reach out to hold and run as well. So who is the Superstar here, the Maverick Big Dog in the body system?

Working as a team is what counts the most in your business. Be the top honcho, but you must realize that what keeps you going is valuing the contribution of others and holding their hands as you work together on the journey of success. I like the words of Michael Jordan, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Everyman is intelligent in his or her own right, and every man or woman has a thought that can be contributed to a project. Look at a building project, what holds that house together is not just the blocks or wood, but the tiny grains of sand that are unseen, the nails hammered into place unseen are all playing their roles to keep that structure together. Remove a nail from a beam…and await the results after a while or mix the wrong ingredients in the initial mix up… (House collapse all over is a testament). Or take a look at your car…let the master brake, as small as it is be damaged…you have a missile on the road or even let all the tire nuts be off…a disaster waiting to happen. So where is the Superstar or Maverick Big Dog here?

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” –Henry Ford

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